I knew it was foolish of me to keep starving myself and it was also selfish because it wasn’t just about me now.I could be hurting my baby badly and that wasn’t what I wanted. I don’t even know what I want now but I want to get out of this cell. I don’t want to open my eyes and behold the iron bars, nor perceive the stale sweat and stench of urine, I don’t want to see Uche so sad and my parents depressed. I don’t want to see my loved ones in pain, I don’t want to give in to fear, I don’t want to question God and I don’t want to believe my childhood friend set me up. She had been to see me but she asked me not to let anyone know. She had reassured me that she knew nothing about it and she would gladly meet with my lawyer to answer any question he might want to ask her. It was then I noticed her bump, she said she had gone into hiding because she didn’t want to be stressed out. She had almost lost her pregnancy once before, so she was being careful, she had said. I reached out and took hold of her hands, she couldn’t have betrayed me so, she couldn’t do that to a friend who had risked everything she had to see her when she was sick. She couldn’t have messed up a friend who had stood by her and given her a roof to stay under. No, I must be strong and not believe all these things. I had believed her, she wept and said she regretted sending me there on that fateful day. After that day, she hadn’t been back to see me.
My mother in_law also came to see me everyday and she told me that she was praying for me. She had held me and cried. She knew I was carrying her grandchild even though I hadn’t told her. She believed God will see us through and we would all be reunited once again. My mother too had told me that daddy had gone to the mountains to pray and he won’t be coming back until a miracle happens. Those are the things I held on to and believed in. My baby and I would get out safely and we would be reunited with our loved ones all over again. I also believed in Sly, he had never lost a case he believed in before and I knew he believed in mine too else he wouldn’t have taken it on. Sly would help me get out, he would convince the judges that I was innocent and that I only acted foolish by touching the knife stuck in Auntie’s stomach. He wouldn’t let me suffer for a crime I didn’t commit.
” Stand up. ” A female officer said, opening the door to my cell and I walked out. They had all been nice and sympathetic towards me especially when they discovered that I was carrying a child. My hand went to my still flat stomach, I wouldn’t tell Uche now, I wouldn’t let him know and I had also begged his mother not to tell him. It would be my gift to him when I walk out of this place. She led me into the waiting room and left. The door opened few seconds later and Sly came in with two other people. The people with him were a man and a woman and I guessed they were a couple. The lady was tall, dark skinned and beautiful and the man was also tall, dark skinned and muscular with broad shoulders.
” Hi Dupe,” The lady said, giving me a little smile.
I didn’t know if she was a friend or a foe but she was with Sly so she was definitely a friend but I didn’t return her smile or greeting. If there’s a possibility that Funmi could have betrayed me then anyone else could again.I wasn’t about to open my heart to anyone else again. They all sat down and Sly proceeded with the introductions.
” Dupe, this is Mr. and Mrs. Afolabi. The couple your friend stayed with in Ghana and they are also convinced of your innocence. They have given us some informations about her which we could use to rope her in. But I want you to also hear from them.”
The man introduced himself as Tade and he narrated everything that had happened in Ghana and how Funmi had also tried to kill his wife. When he was done, his wife also said her bit about Funmi poisoning the mind of her young child against her.I sat down immobile, listening to everything they said about my friend and then it dawned on me that I didn’t know her at all. How could I know not who my childhood best friend really was?
” Thank you” Sly said.” I have enough evidence to go by that she is the murderer we are looking for but the police can’t arrest her because she has a strong alibi. While you were at the late Mrs.Afolabi’s house, she was at home with your husband and mother in law. She couldn’t have been at two different places at the same time but that doesn’t mean she couldn’t have gotten someone else to do the dirty work for her but as it is now there’s nothing the police can do until they have enough evidence to pin her down. I have a PI keeping a tab on her for now.”
” We will do all we can to help you out Dupe, ” Mabel said.” We had also fallen a victim to her once and we won’t let you suffer for a crime you didn’t commit.We believe you are innocent.”
” Thank you.” I replied her, and looked at Sly.” Have you spoken to papa love?” I asked.
I saw something flickered on Sly’s face and he smiled. He actually smiled. The smile was so brief that you must have been attentive to see it.
” Yes I have.” he replied, ” He said the late Mrs. Afolabi was an amiable woman who kept to herself and she had no friends or enemies he was aware of. The only person he mentioned could have a grudge against her was Funmi and he also believed you are innocent.”
I nodded my head to hide the tears misting in my eyes. I had done nothing to Funmi, why would she suddenly turn against me? the woman reached out and touched my arms kindly. Sly asked them to give us a minute and they walked out of the room.
” Dupe, ” he called softly, ” please don’t lose hope. Are you taking your medications on time?”
” Yes.” I whispered and I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. My best friend had betrayed me and I was the last person to know. It seemed everyone else knew who she was but me and it was all my fault for trusting her blindly. I had let her use me so easily, I had done this to myself.
” D–n! Please don’t cry. I can’t stand it when you cry, you don’t know what it does to my heart to see you like this.”
” Sly, do …..I stand a chance? will I ever be free? will my child see the light of day?”
He stood up, pulled me into his arms and we stayed like that. It was the first time he was getting close to me physically since he became my lawyer. He had been so cool and distant that I was beginining to think that,maybe he didn’t believe in my innocence after all. He tilted up my head and kissed me softly.His tongue found mine and I let him control the pace of the kiss.
” Dupe, listen to me. I can no longer represent you.” He said.
” Why? Sly…..Sly please. Please don’t give up on me….please”
He sighed and stepped back.” You don’t know what you have done for me Dupe. You awakened my frozen heart. You made me laugh, you made me want to have a family and you did brought my father back to me. Papa love is my father, it is a long story but I will tell you someday. I am not giving up on you. I don’t want to fail you Dupe. I can’t stand to watch any prosecutor try to rip you apart, I might strangle him with my bare hands. I can’t hold back while you are being treated badly. I am not leaving you Dupe. I will transfer the case to a very good lawyer I know. He has never lost a case before and I trust him to get you out. Or do you want me to break you out of here? D–n! Yea, that’s what I will do. I will make plans and break you out of here.”
” No. I can’t live my life looking over my back every now and then. I can’t keep being on the run and I can’t live as a fugitive. Sly…..Sly are you punishing me? are you trying to…..trying to…..punish me?”
” Dupe I am in love with you. I love you. Don’t ever forget that.” He said and walked out.
” Sly…Sly please.”
The officer came back and led me back to my cell. I knew it then that the end was near for me and I accepted my fate. I only hoped Uche would be alright and my baby would be taken good care of in my absence.
” You can’t walk away from her” Chidubem said.
” What do you want and who the hell are you?” I asked, infuriated at the effrontery of the young man who just barged into my office.
” Don’t act like you don’t know me. I am a brother.” He said, lifting up the edge of his sleeve to reveal his bull tattoo. Of course I knew he was a brother, he was recruited by ogboni76 who was the founder of the bull fraternity. He was Ogboni’s protégée and I was surprised to find out he was Uche’s brother. The brother who had caused the death of their younger sister. No wonder Dupe had been certain she had seen the bull head tattoo before. She had probably seen it on the loser. Ogboni76 was known for recruiting young boys as his tools, they did his evil biddings while he watches and applaudes. When he was through using them, he cuts them lose and turn the law on their tail. He had taken special interest in me when I was only fourteen, he had seen me through school because he fancied having his own personal lawyer. He had introduced me to the world of drug trafficking but no matter how much he tried I refused to use out of the substance. I stopped pushing drugs when I made my debut in the world of law and I cut him loose which had infuriated him and he had sent his boys to assasinate me. Twice.
I put people at arm’s lenght because I didn’t want them to become a target because of their association with me. Ogboni76 had raped Uche’s sister to death, I was sure of that now and when the time is right I will struck him where it hurts the most. If not for me, then for the poor girl he had sent to an early grave.
” What do you want?” I repeated.
” I want you to represent my brother’s wife. She has a better chance of walking free with you as her lawyer.” He stated.
” I am afraid you overestimate me. I didn’t give you an invite or an appointment and I don’t know why my secretary allowed you in. She has another lawyer now, I advise you go see him.”
” Sylvester, you never turn down a brother’s request.” He said.” Brotherhood comes first. You never turn down a brother’s request.”
I pulled out my revolver and pointed it at him.
” F.uck you! F.uck Ogboni76 too and f.uck your f.ucking brotherhood. Get out, get out now before I blow your silly brains off.”
He turned around and walked towards the door.
” Dube2″ I called out and he looked back.” Never back a man pointing a gun at you, that’s a lesson the brotherhood won’t teach you. Now, get out!”
He walked out and banged the door. I dropped the gun and pushed off the files on my desk in anger. D–n! I was doing the right thing. I wasn’t giving up or walking away from her. It was the right thing. I loved her and I wouldn’t hurt her for anything in the world.
To be continued..